The second summer comes to an end

Thus ends the second summer of the CUIP Astro AllStar program, run by NASA and the University of Chicago’s Astronomy Department. This was the first summer with students in addition to teachers. I found it particularly rewarding to work alongside of my fellow mentor teachers, with whom I have spend 15 months with so far, the new teachers and the students. The addition of students but with a split day really seemed to work well. The mornings spent with teachers, along with never all very helpful mornings spend in very extended Q&A sessions with Professor Don York were very nice and very helpful in wrapping my brain around the concepts we explored in the afternoons at full strength, with the students as well.

Two big things stand out for me:

1) I never realized how quickly the field of astronomy changes. I got my bachelors in Astro in 2003, I worked in an astro department until 2005 and I edited for the Astrophysical Journal until 2008, and things that we “knew” at each of those points have since changed.

2) The addition of students to created a co-learning environment is a fantastic way to set up a program. The students will ask questions that had not occurred to the teachers, and vice versa. Since many of the teachers had a science, if not specifically an engineering/physics degree, some things we “already knew” were things that actually needed to be clarified, or had changed since we learned them, as referenced above.

All in all, is was a fantastic program, and I look forward to another year!

Why science?

Why am I interested in science?
When I grew up, it was on a small farm in Michigan, so we were out in a rural setting where there was little light pollution. I loved to look up at the night sky and I liked to look through telescopes at the things I could see. Ever since then I was interested in science in general, and astronomy in particular. When I went to college I majored in astrophysics and physics, buy partway through, I realized while I enjoyed doing the science, I more enjoyed explaining and teaching other people about the science. Therefore, when I left undergrad and went to grad school, I majored in science education. From there it was only a matter of time before I ended up in Chicago teaching CPS students about science.

A spectra app for your iPhone or iPad

Thanks to Jackie Barge, we now know about an app that can let you do spectral comparison and spectral investigation on you very own mobile device. spectraSnapp is a free app that contains the instructions to build your own spectral imaging device to connect to your mobile device, Or you can use the app with your spectroscope from class today to collect some really exciting spectra!

A Haiku on Quasars

Quasars, bright sky lights
Looks like a star, but it’s not
Active nucleus.

Or, for your reading enjoyment, a much better poem from George Gamow:

Twinkle Twinkle quasi-star
Biggest puzzle from afar
How unlike the other ones
Brighter than a billion suns
Twinkle, twinkle, quasi-star
How I wonder what you are.

Day 1 of the second summer of NASA Allstars

Even though we assembled the PowerPoint over the weekend, I while on a plane to and from Miami and Eman over the weekend, I feel as though our “Everything you will need to know about physics this summer in 41 minutes” actually went pretty well. Our presentation was had a few really good YouTube links, one about the nature of light and one about Charge-Coupled Devices.
The day in general has been going very well! We met everyone, heard about why we are doing the program, heard from Professor York about his thoughts on the nature of science and how that will affect our process this summer.
June 15 UofC Astro_Physics Review (v2)

Using the CPS Library Search Functions

This week I have been learning, thanks to helpful librarian Christie, how to do very specific searches and refine by subject, resource type, etc.

To get started you will want to go to the CPS Library Web site. I then picked my school from the list, Westinghouse in my case. Using the search bar in the middle of the page, I enter a search term in the LS2 OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog). Since this is an astronomy blog, my first search will be “astronomy.”

I then go to the bar on the right-hand side of the window and select “Subject > Astronomy”

Now I want to have my students look up the list so I log in at the top with my CPS credentials and click on “Save Search” and name the list.

At the bottom, one of the green tabs is “My Saved Searches.” I click on this and then bring up my list. Next to the list I want to use, I can click on the orange RSS feed, which will bring up (in a non-Chrome browser) a URL that I can copy and paste into my blog.

So I can now copy that and post this link on my blog:

Astronomy students: By clicking here you can find a list of books that will help you in the upcoming project.

First Post

This will be the post in which I chronicle the proceedings of the CUIP and NASA’s Astronomy across the wavelengths. After retuning from a nice camping trip out of town, I have come back to the first week of our online class having already took place.

The second week of the class was focused on sources of Electromagnetic Radiation and the methods of detection of these sources. Specifically, we looked at the materials that would act as filters and would allow transmission through the materials.

While many of the materials we looked at were very similar to the versions of this lab I ran in college, one of the major changes is the smartphone. A smartphone has a camera on it that uses a charge-coupled device (CCD), which detects the incoming photons. This is used every day to detect the bands of visible light in the Red, Green, and Blue wavelengths, but what I had found most interesting was that the camera on a cell phone would detect the photons of a remote control and display on the LED screen of the camera. Now you too can carry around your own infrared detector!